Everyone is reporting about the silver-headed gentleman who frantically called 911 early in the week stating that his Toyota Prius was accelerating out of control down the San Diego interstate. In my mind, these are some of the salient things he says in his on camera CNN interview:
- The the floor mat was not stuck up under the gas pedal.
- The car reached speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour causing him to narrowly miss hitting other vehicles traveling down the road.
- The accelerator took on a mind of its own and was stuck.
- That his attempts to reach down with his hand and physically pull the gas pedal back up were unsuccessful.
- That, since the vehicle was speeding out of control down the interstate, it was unsafe for him to take one of his hands off of the steering wheel to place the car in neutral.
- That, since the vehicle was speeding out of control down the interstate, it was unsafe for him to take one of his hands off of the steering wheel to turn the car off, fearing the steering would lock up and cause a horrible accident at the speed he was traveling.
- That he was standing on the brake pedal with all of his weight and this did not slow the run away vehicle’s speed very much.
- That when the highway patrol pulled up beside him and, using the speaker, told him to stand on the brake and use the emergency brake at the same time, the car slowed down to 50 mph, allowing the patrolman to pull in front of the speeding car, make contact between the the patrolman’s trunk and the Prius’ hood and use the patrol car to brake the Prius to a stop.
Thank goodness the story ends safely.
Now, I could be wrong, and forgive me if I am; but, I don’t buy this at all! This sounds like total hogwash to me.
Allow me to elaborate…
As a crazy teenager with very little driving experience, I was driving a car, with around 350 horsepower, that got stuck in full throttle, with that huge engine racing at full power down a two lane road, with traffic, at night! Needless to say, I was shocked and dumbfounded. But bringing the car to a full stop was a simple, yet frightening thing.
I put it in neutral.
The frightening part was that the engine then revved to the max and sounded like it was going to explode. I turned it off.
Since I was out in the middle of no where, I then decided to turn it back on and drive it (stupid kid) to the nearest gas station to call my dad. Remember, this was before any kind of portable phones even existed. I could control the car’s speed, with this huge engine, by Pressing firmly on the brake and dropping the car into neutral when needed.
But this isn’t why I think this man staged this whole event. Aside from the fact that he is an experienced driver, look at what he says. His own words make zero sense to me.
- If you own a Prius (I do.) odds are very high you are fully aware of the media reports about runaway Prius(es?) that have allegedly killed people. (One report said he was aware of this possible problem and had previously asked his dealer if his car was affected.) If you haven’t given some serious thought to how you would bring your vehicle, of any make or model, to a full stop should something like this happen to you, in my mind, you are negligent!
- He said it was too dangerous for him to take one of his hands off of the steering wheel to reach just a few inches over to place his car in neutral. WHAT??!! But it wasn’t too dangerous to reach under the dashboard all the way down to the floorboard with his hand to try to pull the gas pedal up, thereby not just taking his hand off the steering wheel but his eyes off the road he reported speeding down at 94 mph?! (I can’t see the road and touch the gas pedal at the same time in my Prius.) Please!! Get real, dude!!
- He said it was too dangerous for him to take one of his hands off of the steering wheel to reach just a few inches over to place his car in neutral. But it wasn’t too dangerous to get out his cell phone and place a call to 911? (Did the officer give him a ticket for using his cell phone while driving, which, because it reduces the driver’s response time more than driving under the influence of alcohol, is against the law in California?) Even with a USB headset and the phone options package on the Prius, I still have to touch the phone or the dashboard several times to dial 911. Don’t tell me you couldn’t reach a shorter distance to touch the vehicle’s on/off button once or place the car in neutral! No, no, no!!
No, I just don’t believe his story. In the terror of the moment, it could be true I guess, but it is so improbable as to reach the level of incredulous!
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